Big inning powers Greenwich past Staples
By the time the top of the seventh inning was over, nearly 35 minutes had elapsed, 16 batters had come to the plate and 11 base-runners had crossed it.
So much for the Greenwich baseball team's perfect season coming to an end on this day.
To say that the Cardinals saved their best for last Friday afternoon would be the understatement of the spring as the state's lone remaining unbeaten erupted en route to a 13-2 victory over Staples Friday afternoon.
The Wreckers (13-4) tied up this FCIAC showdown with an unearned run in the fifth, setting the stage for what figured to be another dramatic ending between these rivals.
But by the time Greenwich (16-0) was done hitting in the seventh, most of the home fans had scattered. The floodgates had opened.
It all started with a leadoff double down the left field line by Nick Bancroft. That was the Cardinals' first extra-base hit of the game, but there would be plenty more to come.
After an infield error on a throw home produced Greenwich's first run of the inning, cleanup batter Casey Gaynor delivered a one-out RBI double to make it 4-2 before Cameron Fennell drove in two more runs with a double to left center.
Two batters later, second baseman Matt Pruner -- a self-described singles hitter -- launched a three-run homer over the left field fence. A hit batsman with the bases loaded (Taylor Olmstead), a two-run single by Gaynor and another infield error capped the inning to remember for Greenwich.
"It was indescribable, I'm at a loss for words," said Pruner, who was speaking about his home run but could have also been alluding to the 11-run outburst. "That was awesome. Hitting is contagious and we were just feeding off one another."
The Cardinals got a gritty start from senior Dylan Callahan, who had only one easy inning out of the five he pitched.
Callahan was matched up against Jimmy Kopack in a battle of two of the league's top pitchers.
Kopack struck out six before leaving with two outs in the fifth when Greenwich tied the game on an error, then took the lead on an infield single by Gaynor.
Mistakes in the infield were costly for the defending FCIAC champs, who were also hurt by the 10 runners they left on base.
"When you have a runner on third and less than two outs you have to put a bat on the ball," said Staples coach Jack McFarland, who has guided the Wreckers to three league titles in the last four years.
"The last inning, that stuff happens. But you have to win the game within the game. We had opportunities and they took advantage later on. But if you're playing ahead it's a whole different ballgame."
Sophomore Kyle Dunster, who has already set a program record for saves in a season for the pitching-rich Cardinals, worked two perfect innings to earn the win.
Though he didn't figure in the decision, Callahan -- who added three hits on the day -- earned much praise from his coach and teammates.
"I can't say enough about how well Dylan competed today," Greenwich coach Mike Mora said. "He had great stuff and made a lot of great pitches. We kicked around the ball a little behind him and like a true leader, he took it upon himself and I am very proud of how he pitched today."
Now just four wins away from an undefeated regular season, the Cardinals face a challenging final week against the likes of St. Joseph, Warde and Danbury.
As for the Wreckers, they'll try to put an end to their two-game slide against Ridgefield on Monday.
"It was a dogfight today, a game that was much closer than the final score indicates," McFarland said. "This is the reason why we built this field, to have big-time games like this here. There were no trophies on the table or championships awarded today though, so hopefully we learn from this and are ready next time."